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Someone in my neighborhood wants to donate a used Aron Kodesh to a shul. There is a shul in my neighborhood that I thought could use it, but they have one, already. But, I'm wondering if they would be allowed to use it as a Sefarim closet? Or is this a case (no pun, intended) of moridin bakodesh (descending in holiness)?

I checked Talmud Megillah 26b which lists tashmishei kodesh and tashmishei mitzvah. They mention תיק של ס"ת, which I don't think is the same as an Aron. So, I'm uncertain what category that would be considered.

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    Doesn’t Megillah mention a teivah? I always understood that to be equivalent to an aron. – Joel K Apr 17 '18 at 19:43
  • @JoelK If I'm not mistaken, the term teiva means the table used for reading the Torah. In contrast, the amud is the table used for the shat"z's prayer. – DanF Apr 17 '18 at 20:23
  • Tik might very well mean "aron" in this case, as it seems unlikely (from other discussions on this site) that a Torah case of the Sephardi style was already in existence in the times of Chaza"l – Noach MiFrankfurt Apr 17 '18 at 21:48
  • @NoachMiFrankfurt I'm inclined to disagree. I think the term "aron" was already in use in the Talmud. Certainly, we see the term used in Tanac"h. Why wouldn't the Gemara use that term, here, directly, instead of another term if they meant "aron"? – DanF Apr 17 '18 at 22:04
  • Take a look at OC 153:2 where the mechaner defines a teivah as היכל שמניחין בו ספר תורה או לוח שמעמידין עליו ספר תורה. Sounds like an Aron Kodesh to me. – Joel K Apr 18 '18 at 17:30
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According to Kitzur Yalkut Yosef 1:166:4-5 (A Sefardi Posek):

  • There are those that say you can put Gemarot and Halachic works in an old Aron Kodesh, since this was implicitly agreed upon from the outset.

  • One can rely on the Taz and others who are lenient and permit this, since it is better than burying it.

The Mishna Berurah (154:8, s"k 37) says that it appears from the wording of the Trumat Hadeshen (the source of this leniency) that it is better to explicitly allow the use of the Aron Kodesh for other purposes when donating or buying it for the synagogue.

The Mishna Berurah also adds that this leniency (of not having to explicitly permit the use of the Aron for other purposes) only applies to an Aron Kodesh bought for a synagogue, it does not apply to an Aron used to store a Sefer Torah in a private residence.

  • I don't understand the 1st item. How was there an implicit agreement? Do you mean that when the Aron was built, it includes placing books as well as Sifrei Torah? – DanF Apr 18 '18 at 2:41
  • @DanF: Yes. It was a loose translation of "The heart of Bet Din made a condition [to include the Talmud and Halachic Works] from the beginning" – Menachem Apr 18 '18 at 2:44
  • @DanF: If you're looking for a practical solution, you can sell the Aron and use the money for Tashmishei Kedusha. The Aron then loses its holiness (See paragraph 6 in the Yalkut Yosef). Again, this is for Sefardim, I'm not sure what Ashkenazim would say, CYLOR – Menachem Apr 18 '18 at 2:46
  • OK, I viewed the source. I still don't understand what he means by the "heart of Bet Din". What does this have to do with a Bet Din? 2nd comment is an interesting work-around. In this case, though, it's not practical. The donor specifically wants to donate this to a shul. It's now a question of my finding a shul that can use it in some way. – DanF Apr 18 '18 at 2:48
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    @DanF enjoy your white elephant:) – user6591 Apr 18 '18 at 14:48

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